In its next column for TheLatch—, BARE Therapy dives deep into the topic of rediscovering your identity after having kids. From knowing your values, to carving out time for yourself, here’s exactly how to find yourself after becoming a parent.
Having children can be one of the most magical moments in your life. A moment where your heart grows full and your identity changes from someone you were, to someone’s parent. But when your friends start to ask you, “How’s the baby?” before they ask how you are, it’s hard not to wonder whether your identity is too wrapped up in your child. Without them, who are you?
The good news is your previous, pre-baby self and your parent self can co-exist. In fact, this is an exciting time for you: a moment in time that enables you to rediscover — and completely establish — who you will be now you’re also a parent. One important lesson here? Eliminate the word ‘just’ from your vocabulary. You’re not ‘just a mum’/dad, or ‘just an employee’, or ‘just a wife/husband’. You are multi-faceted.
So, how do you start showing up as your (new) full self?
(Note that this advice actually suits for just after you’ve become a parent, entered into a couple, had a health scare, started a new career… any big life change, really!)
Know Your Values
Your values are what drive you and they rarely change. Once you know which values you hold highest, you can continually remind yourself that what you are doing — personally, professionally, spiritually — is in service of these and nothing else matters.
Some examples of values you may have include ‘family’, ‘achievement’, ‘faith’, ‘knowledge’, ‘loyalty’ and more (for a full list, get in touch). Once you’re clear on your top five values, know that these things are actually what make up your identity, from the inside out.
Embrace the ‘New You’ — and Compromise a Little
Sometimes change can be shocking. Yes, it’s amazing that you now have a tiny human to love, but it’s not so great that they’re constantly latched on to your breast and your previously always-fresh hair is now 10-days without a wash.
But hey, that’s okay for this new you. The good, ‘big’ change of having a baby has come with a less-good ‘small’ change of having to let go of the strict grooming routine for a while. You wouldn’t want to have neither, so the compromise here is important.
And remember, you are always evolving. Take it easy on yourself. This won’t be your forever, so enjoy the new right now.
Carve Time Out for All Parts of You
Just as you’re compromising, it’s also important to be proactive and carve out time in your day for all parts of your identity — new and old.
Look at the areas of your identity you feel you’ve lost. Perhaps it’s feeling sexy and fresh in your relationship? Diarise a date night with your partner and get a babysitter so you can focus on feeling sexy. Maybe you miss being silly and light with your friends? No problems, book in a long lunch or shoot a text to each of them saying you need them to check-in every now and then like old times. Or perhaps you just feel ‘blergh’? Order a healthy meal service for one week and use the good lotions next time you have a shower.
It’s the little things that will help you feel connected to your identity, so prioritise them.
Course-Correct the Conversation
If it’s your friends and colleagues putting you in a box, politely tell them otherwise…
Next time your friends ask about the bub before you, tell them: ‘Oh, she’s good but I miss time with you and I can’t wait to flex my work muscles again!’ And if they don’t ask you out or assume you’re not drinking or can’t make it because of your new baby, tell them how you feel: ‘I would have loved the invite. I know I couldn’t make it last time, but please do always think of me!’.
They’ll be happy for your candour, and you’ll love the opportunity to see your true self reflected in their eyes.
We are all multi-faceted human beings, and sometimes some facets shine brighter than others. No matter what big changes life throws your way, be they good or bad, being congruent with your own identity is the best way to happily get through them.
BARE Therapy specialises in helping clients with all relationships — self, intimate, work, family. Follow for tips and advice: @bare__therapy.